NCJW Luncheon Features State Rep. Gina Hinojosa

NCJW Luncheon Features State Rep. Gina Hinojosa

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa of Austin will discuss Texas politics at a Sept. 3 NCJW event. Credit: LBJ Presidential Library.

By Bettie Forman

The next National Council of Jewish Women luncheon will be held Tuesday, Sept. 3. featuring guest speaker State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, who will discuss Texas politics. Question and answer time will be included.

A native Texan and a proud product of public schools, Hinojosa arrived in Austin in 1992 to attend the University of Texas at Austin. With the exception of her years in law school in Washington, D.C., she has called Austin home ever since.

The daughter of legal aid lawyers from Mission, Texas, Hinojosa was steeped in social justice and activism at a young age. Her mother, Crisanta Guerra Lozano, was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States.

Hinojosa graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Plan II honors and government degree. She received her law degree from George Washington Law School in 1999 and was licensed that same year.

Hinojosa’s first legal job was working for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in the Office of Legal Counsel in Washington, D.C. There she learned the importance of organized labor in securing a strong middle class and workers’ rights.

In Austin, Hinojosa joined the law firm of Kator, Parks and Weiser, representing employees who had been discriminated against based on race, gender, age and disability.

In 2005 she worked on the prevailing legal team that sued House Majority Leader Tom Delay for illegal campaign contributions to Republican members of the Texas House.

Once she and her husband started their family, Hinojosa worked part-time for Catholic Charities, Office of Immigrant Concerns; Texas Rural Legal Aid; and the Equal Justice Center, where she helped to secure unpaid wages for low-wage workers. She still serves on the Equal Justice Center Board.

Throughout her career, Gina volunteered with Austin Interfaith and was a key leader in the organization’s successful efforts to require corporations that receive economic incentives from the city to pay their employees a living wage or higher.

Hinojosa ran for the Austin Independent School District School Board primarily because she was frustrated with the district’s proposed plan to close neighborhood schools, including the school her son attended, Pease Elementary. She was elected to an at-large position on the board in Nov. 2012 and was elected board president by her fellow trustees in Jan. 2015.

In the short time that Hinojosa has served on the school board, she has led successful efforts on workers’ rights, advocated and testified at the legislature in support of increased funding for public education, partnered with the city to secure millions in additional funding for students, and secured the rights and safety of LGBTQ employees and students. Under her leadership, every AISD high school met state accountability standards for the first time, a major step forward in improving academic performance for all students.

Hinojosa lives in Austin with her husband, John Donisi, two sons, Matteo and Pablo, and their dog, Baffi. Donisi is an Austin attorney who served as a special assistant to Governor Ann Richards.

The NCJW luncheon featuring Hinojosa will be held Sept. 3 at Cover 3 Restaurant, 2700 West Anderson Lane. Networking time will be from 11:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and the program starts at 11:45 a.m. The cost of the luncheon is $20.

RSVP is required due to space limitations. Visit event.akubo.com/v2/main.php?id=B19F and scroll down to register.

For more information, visit ncjwaustin.org.

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